American politics has morphed into a phenomenon eerily reminiscent of American sports. We root for teams, purchase and display paraphernalia and demonize the competition. ESPN, MSNBC, CNN, FOX News/FOX Sports, it’s all the same.
Fans of the New England Patriots will argue tooth and nail as to how although deflating footballs may be against the rules; it didn’t affect the outcome of games. Any obvious similarities to the 2016 election and the impact of Russian interference are intentional.
“Just win baby” as the late Al Davis would say. “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying” as another old sports adage would argue. Major League Baseball and sports media turned a collective blind eye to performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in the late 90s because it was great for business and ratings respectively. Any obvious similarities to the 2016 election and FOX News are again, intentional. You’d be hard-pressed to find a San Francisco Giants fan or team correspondent who would have traded a 2002 World Series appearance and the four Barry Bonds home runs for a lecture on PEDs.
In the wake of the 2016 election, it is clear that for the remaining supporters of President Trump, his previous personal failings and present abhorrent behavior are irrelevant. To wit, he reminds us daily, referencing the obvious.
We now live in a zero-sum, zero accountability society where winning supersedes morals, values, principles and standards. Winning IS everything and thus justifies everything.
The misspelling-laden tweets of rage, serving as official White House statements would not be acceptable anywhere else from anyone else in American history. The behavior would not be acceptable from a child, much less the Commander-In-Chief. Nonetheless, it’s okay now, because…
There is no Biblical, moral, reasonable, practical or honorable explanation to offer in its place. There is no principled counterargument.
Morals, values, principles and standards don’t take vacations with an email auto-responder. You can’t ever spell “American Exceptionalism” without “exceptional.” Our president campaigns in perpetuity, selling the greatness of America while extolling the virtues of classlessness. The GOP shouldn’t ever dare again invoke the greatness of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan as foundational bookends of the Republican party; yet also deny the reality that this president cares more about cable news commentary than electricity in Puerto Rico.
Lady Liberty, have you no shame?
When the Trump presidency is over, regardless of date or determinative reason; we will have to ask ourselves individually and collectively, “How do we find our way back?” Not in a legislative sense, but a decency one, an honesty one.
I am fine with any president seeking to enact his legislative vision and agenda, regardless of whether it suits me personally or ideologically.
I am not fine with any president demeaning the office or diminishing our standing in the world. And before anyone responds with the predictable “Bill Clinton” response, be sure to remember that Clinton was impeached, with 6 Democrats also voting in favor.
And before someone predictably says that both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal were before Trump took office; remember it was the Paula Jones case (before office) which introduced Monica Lewinsky to the world. It was the Paula Jones case which led to Clinton being compelled to testify and thus charged with perjury and obstruction of justice.
The Democrats also ultimately lost the Oval Office despite a strong economy and budget surplus in the wake of the Lewinsky scandal. Any comparison to Clinton must also include the parts conveniently overlooked in partisan, shortsighted argumentation.
Regardless of what one believes about the allegations of coordination between the Trump campaign/administration and the Russian government, there is no debate as to Russian interference. There is no debate as to the repeated and systemic efforts of the Russian government to undermine our elections, our infrastructure and our very way of life. There is no debate as to the chief responsibility of the President of the United States of America; protect us from enemies both foreign and Neo-Nazi domestic.
“He won,” in no way explains or excuses our president’s disconnect and reluctance to truly put “America First” in preventing future Russian incursions.
“He won,” in no way excuses or explains the wanton disrespect and disdain our president has for the DOJ and our own intelligence apparatus. God help those who continue to believe it does.
How do we find our way back? Or is this the president and precedent which underpin our normative values going forward?
How do we return to that place and time in America when (allegedly) paying off a porn star for her silence days before the election and paying off a Playboy model to kill her story were beneath the dignity of the office of the president? How do we get back to those days of yore?
Morals, values and standards aren’t occasional in nature. How do evangelicals ever come back from condemning Stormy Daniels yet excusing the man who had an affair with her? When did adultery become morally acceptable among evangelicals? How do fiscal conservatives return to the land of the deficit hawks?
How do we find our way back from the place where praise and congratulations of murderous dictators from this administration are more sincere and truthful than any answer in any White House press briefing?
“He won” is a pitiful explanation, a sorry excuse or qualifier. We were taught better, can do and deserve better.
Recently, outspoken conservative and fellow game show host Chuck Woolery recently tweeted:
#Trump is proving every day, that we do better with citizen non politicians than with professional politicians. WAIT, that’s what the #FoundingFathers had in mind when they created this Government.”
No Chuck, he’s proving why all game show hosts should stay off of Twitter and leave the heavy lifting of contextualizing history to the trained professionals.
The election of Donald Trump absolved him of the requisite decency, dignity and decorum connected to the office of the president of the United States of America no more than the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl justified the subsequent riot.
Contrary to what Chuck Woolery might have you believe, the Founding Fathers were not exceptionally prescient. They didn’t foresee the importance of African-American freedom or voting privileges of women when they created this government back in the 18th century. That said, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that they didn’t have a former game show host with the maturity of an adolescent who has likely been compromised by a hostile foreign power as president in mind either.
We can argue about why it has come to this point and how we got here. But there should be no disagreement as to whether the toxicity of the Trump administration is doing irreparable harm to America.